■STEP 1: BLOCK IN WITH BURNT UMBER
To start a painting, I first block in the light side and shadow side of the figure with burnt umber and linseed oil.
I don’t use any turpentine in my painting process, since I try to make the process as non-toxic as possible. Burnt umber has a lot of manganese in it, which is a natural drying agent, so that helps this underpainting, or “grisaille,” dry quickly. I also mix a few drops of “drying linseed oil,” (linseed oil with manganese added), into my paints, to help them dry faster.
■STEP 2: BLOCK IN THE BACKGROUND COLOUR
Next, I block in a rough background colour. At this stage I don’t worry of the colour is not exactly right, it’s mostly just to separate the positive and negative shapes.
■STEP 3: BASIC COLOUR LAY IN
Then I add glazes of colour into the light areas, to establish the basic colours.
■STEP 4: BIG FORM MODELING
At this stage I work on the “big form” modeling. I build up the forms using tones and values to show the basic underlaying structures, such as the egg shape of the head and the cylindrical nature of the body.
■STEP 5: REFINEMENTS
I start to adjust the background colour, and go more into the features, thinking about tone, and shape and edge quality.
■STEP 6: FINAL TOUCHES
To finish the painting, I put in a lot of time, concentrating on bringing each area of the painting to a finish. Consideration is given to the “hierarchy of focal interest.” So like the shirt remain looser, while the eyes and face are more refined.